A physics-based sex toy? FUCK YES! Meet Doctor X. Treme, who has a Ph.D.in applied physics and invents sex machines. He is the founder of X. Treme Orgasmatronics, which will soon be launching its first product, the X1 Orgasmatron.
I was introduced to Doctor X. Treme by a friend who I met at Transcending Boundaries 2011. Last weekend, I got to see his soon-to-be-launched X1 in person, and all I can say is that I think he’s on to something with this whole “science” thing. The X1 doesn’t feel like any other toy I’ve ever tried, and I can’t wait to buy one and collect some data myself. >:) I love to talk with other kinky geeks, so I appreciate this opportunity to pick Doctor X.’s brain and hear about his design process.
What was the first toy you ever used (or had used on you)?
Probably some random vibrator? With a girlfriend.
What was the first toy you ever made or hacked?
I’d love to say I have a long history of interesting hacks, but mostly what I did was take things apart to see how they worked and ended up destroying them for a while. Then I moved on to making things that vibrated or had some dildo piece but were still pretty frightening and science-y and really just models and not workable toys. Probably the first somewhat-usable device I made was DIY dildos made from casting plaster of paris around playdoh and then taking the playdoh out and pouring in 2 part silicone. Worked OK.
How did you first get interested in studying physics?
I’ve wanted to do this forever. I don’t even remember. When I was a little kid I always wanted to understand basic things about speeds and distances and time that normal kids didn’t care about and as it turned out adults also didn’t care about. As time went on, I got really into both wanting to know more about how the Universe worked and how machines work. They both went hand in hand until college, when I got less interested in fundamental stuff and more into applied stuff which seems to have made way more progress in my lifetime than the fundamental.
What made you think of applying the principles of physics to sex machine design?
It’s kind of how I think about everything. I don’t know how to design anything without breaking it down into it’s basic physical concepts. That’s just my method.
What aspects of toy design do you find the most interesting? The most hot?
The most interesting is the really conceptual stuff, figuring out something that is really new that I know will work but has not been done. The most hot? Testing!
You specifically mention “high force and high mechanical impedance” as key concepts in the design of the X1 Orgasmatron. Could you briefly describe these concepts (especially for those of us who struggle with physics) and how they influenced the final machine?
In electricity, “impedance” refers to voltage divided by current. In direct analogy to this, I refer to mechanical impedance as the ratio of force to velocity. The product of force and velocity is power, but this ratio tells us how effectively power can be coupled from one system to another. An example of this is a comparison of bowling and badminton. In bowling you use the human arm to move a ball which is massive, much like the arm. With badminton, you use a thin racket swung very fast to hit a tiny birdie. If you were to switch these things, and say throw the birdie with your arm or even worse hit the bowling ball as hard as you can with the racket, both will result in failure to couple power. Why? It’s not a lack of power! If you go lift weights so that you can swing harder and then hit the bowling ball with the racket, you’ll still just smash up your racket because the ball wants high force and low velocity instead of the opposite. So it’s that ratio of force to velocity, which is the impedance.
Roughly, this impedance tends to scale with the mass of the objects involved. Be it the tip of the racket, the arm, or in the case of a vibrator the little mass which spins around. And it is that mass that I ended up focusing on. I went through a whole series of more complicated ideas which I thought were clever involving solenoids, hydraulics, pneumatics, etc. but in the end all I needed was a much larger mass (1/3 pound) and a gear motor capable of going up in torque and down in speed relative to your typical vibrator motor.
A standard vibrator has a tiny mass which goes around pretty fast and is thus impedance matched to the skin on the surface of the glans of the clit. But the glans is just a tiny part of the whole clitoris, which has a large mass of tissue inside which also can have very sensitive nerves. So how does one use a machine to reach those nerves? With a vibrator with a bigger mass! Attach a dildo to such a vibrator, and you can get deep motion of a kind which is impossible with a traditional vibrator, very much like how moving the bowling ball with the racket in the above example is impossible!
Can you tell us a little bit about your design process for the X1 Orgasmatron? (i.e., How did you get started? How many prototypes did you build, and how frequently did you build them? How did you test / evaluate your design?)
My wife asked me to build her a Sybian. I said, “What’s a Sybian?” and started in a hobby capacity maybe about 3 years ago. Early on I built random things which were not really even prototypes, and worked on this in my spare time in my bedroom. After a few months I started a “secret lab” in a storage unit where I worked on all sorts of prototypes both for this and for other science-related inventions. That went on for about a year and then I moved into the garage of an anarchist collective house for another year, and now I’ve been in an industrial space for about a year getting more serious.
I don’t know how many prototypes I’ve built, and it’s hard to tell where to draw the line sometimes between generations. Dozens? With dozens of tiny random throw-away models in between. It’s been in just the last year that I got really serious and started to spend a significant amount of time on this every week and most days. Testing involves a lot of just holding it against parts of my arm when I’m alone in lab until I get something really good worth actually giving to a tester or using with a tester.
What are your top three pieces of advice for people who want to build their own sex machines?
Well, I’d say it all depends on what you want. I don’t always relate to the maker community (although I love the stuff they do) because sometimes it seems like people put a ton of time and work and money into something and then you get something you could have just bought, and I’d just as soon buy it most of the time. So my perspective is unusual in that my goal has always been to build something new that solves an unsolved problem as well as to build a viable business. Part of what drew me to sex toy work in the first place is that I think this field is really accessible to independent inventors. So 3 pieces of advice?
- Figure out what you actually want from the project. Your whole approach will be different if you are building one of these than if you plan to build hundreds, and that difference will appear right away in terms of design decisions.
- Use outsourcing if you have the budget for it. OK, this is just preference, but I feel like if you have a budget using the online resources for rapid prototyping is a huge force multiplier.
- People will give you annoying advice, and you just have to deal with it. I have settled on “That’s a great idea! I’m going to do that!” every time pretty much. But this is only in the later stages. In the earlier stages, it’s more a litany of things some numb-skull thinks won’t work, usually based on an explanation involving lots of jargon. Ignore and stay strong. If these people knew anything about product development, they’d be developing products. People will give you great advice you should listen to AS USERS, about what they want, listen to them, but don’t let it get to you when suddenly everyone is an expert in business and tech and wants to tell you your stuff won’t work.
For more hot, physics-based action, you can find Doctor X. Treme on FetLife (doctor_xtreme) and Twitter (@doctor_xtreme). Join his email list at www.doctorxtreme.com for product updates about the X1 Orgasmatron and future X. Treme Orgasmatronics endeavors.